On mission (impossible)
Who remembers the ‘mission impossible’ movies with the protagonist Ethan Hunt – this impressive character who would stop at nothing to accomplish his seemingly impossible mission? As viewers we would be taken on a wild adventure with highs and lows, a lot of near-death moments and agonizing suspense but at the end of the day, Ethan Hunt would always emerge victorious, the hero who ‘saves the day’.
Although we know that the hero will save the day, the thing that keeps us glued to our seats is the 'how'. How does he overcome the challenges thrown at him, how will he deal with the betrayal or imminent danger awaiting him? The thrill of seeing the hero overcome makes the mission impossible movies entertaining.
As a young kid, I use to dread the word ‘mission’ or ‘missionary’, it used to scare me. The thought of having to endure pain or danger of any kind was not appealing in any way. The impression I had about what being a missionary entailed was never desirable to me. It looked like lack, suffering, discomfort and separation from loved ones. Being a missionary or being on mission seemed to be filled with toil and hardship and the ‘cherry on top’ was that the very people the said missionary was out to help did not even want them there or appreciate their presence and effort.
My young, immature mind saw the cost and never the gain, the sacrifice and not the reward. The missionary stories I heard always left me feeling sorry for the missionaries because I stopped listening to them mid-way. Imagine if Ethan Hunt would give up on his mission halfway through the movie because it got difficult, these movies would lose their thrill. What makes them exciting is that despite the danger and the pain he must endure while accomplishing his mission, he perseveres because the end goal is worth the effort.
I remember watching documentaries about missionaries in far away villages, being hated and despised. There was always some monologue inserted and tears would fall from the missionaries’ eyes as they recalled the hardship they endured, it broke my heart and at this point my brain would switch off and I would conclude, ‘mission’ equals bad.
I used to even ‘pray against’ being a missionary when I was a kid until I grew up and realised who was actually ‘sending me on mission’, why this mission mattered and that at the end of it all there is a great reward. Paul, an amazing guy who wrote much of the New Testament said in 1 Corinthians 13:11, "when I was a child, I talked like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child. When I became a man, I put the ways of childhood behind me."
As I grew up and began to mature in my understanding of who God is (the one sending us on mission) and what that mission is (go into all the world and make disciples of all nations) as well as the reward (eternity with Him – not only for myself but also those who get to know Him), I realized 3 things:
1. Anything worthwhile comes at a cost
2. Following Jesus is worth the cost
3. The gain far outweighs the cost
Anything worthwhile comes at a cost, this cost could be financial, emotional, material, relational or mental – likewise with missionaries who follow the call of Christ to the ends of the earth. The only way we can willingly sacrifice anything in this life is if we regard the One we sacrifice for to be worthy.
We are never asked to do for God what He Himself has not modelled through Jesus Christ. No sacrifice was too big for God when it came to our salvation, therefore in response to that, we live lives that hold nothing back in service of the One who held nothing back for us, He is worth the cost.
“Therefore, we do not lose heart. Though outwardly we are wasting away, yet inwardly we are being renewed day by day. For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all. So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen, since what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal.”
These words from Paul in 2 Corinthians 4: 16-18 should be echoed in our own hearts as we contemplate the immeasurable worth of knowing Christ. He is worthy and because he is worthy, we gladly and willingly accept the mission He has called us to.
“The Great Commission”
“Therefore, go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely, I am with you always, to the very end of the age.” – Mathew 28: 19-20
This is our ‘mission impossible’, made possible by the abiding presence of Jesus.
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